I am a first year teacher, and next week I am going to meet with the tech director of our school. I have a feeling that I am fighting an up-hill battle but I truly believe in it. I want to incorporate a Wiki page with my class, their concern seems to be that it is linked to the school and if anything the slightest bit off color is posted by one of the students then it will reflect poorly on the school and myself and the community. Has anyone else had this problem with their school, if so how was it handled. Another thing that I am pushing for is a Gmail account for each of our students for them to have access to shared documents and such, has anybody been down that road with their school yet?
Thanks in advance. 

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We've been down it and are beginning to deal with those very issues. Before we implemented Google Apps we had discussions with our district attorney and I guess everything fell into the AUP (our user policy) and was OK.

I suggest looking into your current policy and if it seems out of date make an attempt to get it updated.

We have had a couple of pretty big incidents in elementary cyber bullying - a student got into another student's account and ruined his work in a nasty way. Teh good thing about Google Docs?....... REVISION HISTORY! Everything is recorded and since we use Moodle to log into Google Apps we were able to do some research using Moodle's timestamped reporting which lists actions, ip addresses, etc. then compared it with the Google Doc revision history and we were able to find the person responsible and the school/district took action accordingly.

I understand the hesitance but we're really doing a disservice to the kids if we can't even make a simple wiki, come on! I see both worlds - tech people and teacher sides. The thing is, the tech department (whether they feel this way or not) works for the teachers and the district. Tech people need see what staff are asking for and what is effective and try as hard as they can to make it happen. Curriculum drives the technology, not the other way around. (and i'm a tech geek person).

Don't give up if you get push back! See what you can find out about your policy, maybe give examples of other districts, stress to them that you will go over "rules" and etiquette.
I just asked for Google Apps today... I am curious to see what response I get.
As the tech director, we implemented Google Education and have email for every student and staff member. The successful argument here was to empower students at no additional cost other than increased bandwidth and slight management.

The drawback on gmail is that I can not monitor what a student says or does without directly taking over a student's account. While I have no time and desire to read student emails, there are valid concerns about liability, safety and privacy. I'd suggest exploring those counter arguments before your discussion. There are mirroring and storage solutions but their costs outweigh their utility.

At some point, we have to have a rock solid acceptable use policy, educate the students on their responsibilities, and catch them when they mess up. I'd rather they used our email than the myriad other free emails we cant control.

As for wikis, we implemented secured blogs and wikis using OS X server. Teachers have to be vigilant about their security settings, but once the students log in they can post, add media, etc. I wouldn't support externally hosted wikis and blogs until I could be certain my students' privacy was maintained.

If you don't have the infrastructure to support these ideas, then they become difficult to monitor and manage. I'm not sure what your IT staff headcount is, but at my school it is ONE, me, for 450 users and 300 computers. I get real picky about what I can support because I don't want to do it half way.

We encourage independent problem solving, so quite often teachers (of which I am also one) come up with some out of the box solutions that are at odds with dor uplicate existing capabilities. Be prepared to hear of alternative processes; perhaps your school is already moving that direction and you are ahead of the curve. Perhaps you could test the idea and give the IT staff your feedback on how effective it was.

I'd go into your discussion with a 360 degree review of your proposal, and try to address concerns like security, material costs, management costs and interoperability in advance.

I hope the perspective helps, good luck!

Charles
Charles great perspective and similar w/ what my district does as well. I implemented Google Docs last year for our 7th graders but we used it w/ a combo of Gaggle which does filter gMail. It was about 3 dollars per student... https://www.gaggle.net/googleaps.html This was a really nice feature as I didn't have to worry about student's receiving or posting inappropriate emails. Also, through Gaggle you could host your filtered blog/wiki.

Now are district is using what you do for blogs/wikis w/ OS 10.6.3 and everything is in a controlled environment. However, there are some nice free solution which do work as long as you monitor it, Edmodo and Kidblog are nice alternatives.

Thanks!!
Hey, thanks for the heads up on gaggle, looks exactly like what I need.
I agree. You need to go in prepared and anticipate the likely counter-arguments (almost certainyl about security/privacy concerns).

Naturally, student security is a primary interest for all of us and, as has been mentioned in this forum, apps like gaggle make it somewhat easier to manage. Above all, however, don't forget to stress the positive potential of technological integration. In other words, don't let yourself be backed into a defensive corner. Go on the offensive with solid arguments for how technology can imporve the educational experience.

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